Gujjars clear blockade; Bainsla visits Gehlot

Normalcy returned to Rajasthan a day after the Gujjar Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti signed an agreement with the State Government and called off its 17-day agitation. The rail tracks were cleared on the Delhi-Mumbai route on Thursday as the Gujjars, who had been squatting on the rail line at Pilukapura in Bharatpur district, vacated the place as the news about the truce filtered into the misty countryside.

The first to break the long overdrawn rail blockade at Pilukapura was the 2903 Dn Golden Temple Mail on its way to Delhi crossing the “hump” at 5.45 pm on Thursday, followed soon by the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Superfast which crossed the point around 6.15 pm.

Kirori Singh Bainsla, who led the movement peacefully this time, took time to reach the Pilukapura spot where he had camped with his Gujjar followers since December 20. By the time he reached the place, the crowd had already vanished. What was left for the retired Colonel to do there was to retrieve the flag -- symbolizing the Gujjar deity Dev Narayan -- they had hosted at the beginning of the protest there and carry it back to his native town Hindaun in Karauli district.

Meanwhile, before leaving the State capital, Col. Bainsla along with his close associates Roop Singh, Jaga Ram, Bhim Singh, Attar Singh and Sriram Bainsla called on Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot at his official residence. Jitendra Singh, who was among the three ministers who negotiated on behalf of the Government with the Gujjar groups, also met Mr. Gehlot along with representatives of other Special Backward Classes (SBCs). Both groups thanked Mr. Gehlot for the peaceful settlement of the issue.

“The Government did not want to see the Gujjars sitting out in the cold on the rail tracks in this kind of weather,” Mr. Gehlot told Col. Bainsla. The Chief Minister said he had given instructions to the Bharatpur Collector to make sure that those who were sitting on the tracks got safe drinking water, emergency medicines and protection from bitter cold.

Mr. Gehlot also thanked Col. Bainsla for maintaining peace throughout the agitation. “There are material losses but no human life has been lost,” he told him while appreciating the fact that the latter had kept the promise he had made (to Mr. Gehlot) -- to follow the Gandhian path in the protest -- during his previous visit to the office. “After seeing the photograph of Martin Luthar King in my office you had made such a promise as the American civil rights leader had been greatly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi,” Mr. Gehlot noted.

Mr. Gehlot asked the Gujjars and other SBCs to have faith in the government. “The world exists on mutual faith and trust. The State Government is committed to ensure five per cent reservation for SBCs. I understand the agony of Gujjars. The impact of poverty and backwardness on the community,” he asserted. “The State Government and the SBCs share a common interest. We will work together for achieving this goal,” Mr. Gehlot said. However, he suggested that the communities respect the court directives and keep patience.